Two Israeli films were nominated for the 85th Academy Awards' Best Documentary Feature category on Thursday, The Gatekeepers and 5 Broken Cameras.
Dror Moreh's The Gatekeepers, which features interviews with all six living former chiefs of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
The film features interviews with Yuval Diskin, Avi Dichter, Ami Ayalon, Ya'acov Peri, Carmi Gillon and Avraham Shalom.
The interviews are interspersed with newsreel and archival footage and computer-enhanced imagery.
5 Broken Cameras, directed by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, documents the first years of life for Burnat's baby against the backdrop of the West Bank village of Bil'in's battle against the Israeli security fence. Five of Burnat's cameras were smashed by the Israeli army as he documented friends and family members being shot and injured by Israeli troops. The film won the documentary director's award this year at the Sundance Film Festival.
Israel has never before had a nominee in the Best Documentary feature category, although the documentary short, Strangers No More, won an Oscar in 2011. Israeli films have made the short list in the past, but none has made the final cut.
Israel has had four nominations since 2008 in the Best Foreign Language Film category, for Joseph Cedar’s Beaufort and Footnote, Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir, and Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani’s Ajami. Israel’s official entry this year, Rama Burshtein’s Fill the Void, did not make the Oscar short list.
The unprecedented two nominations for Israeli documentaries is a testament to the vitality of the Israeli movie scene over the last decade. Both The Gatekeepers and 5 Broken Cameras have won numerous awards already. The National Society of Film Critics in the US gave The Gatekeepers its Best Documentary Award last week, and 5 Broken Cameras won the World Cinema Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012.
Steven Spielberg's Lincoln led the pack of Oscar nominees on Thursday with 12 nominations including a nod for best picture, in the race for the world's top film honors.
Joining Lincoln in the competition for the best movie Oscar were eight films, including shipwreck tale Life of Pi with 11 nods, musical Les Miserables, Iran hostage drama Argo, French drama Amour, Osama bin laden thriller Zero Dark Thirty, comedy Silver Linings Playbook, Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, and mythological indie film Beasts of the Southern Wild.
The Oscars are given out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and this year's winners will be named at a ceremony in Hollywood on February 24.
JTA contributed to this report.